ELKO — NBC programming is being broadcast off of Lamoille Summit as of Friday through KSL-TV and the Elko TV District, and the signal is expected to be transmitting from two other points within the next couple of weeks.
That was part of the progress update shared at the Elko TV District board meeting Jan. 12, when representatives from the Salt Lake City station visited to discuss technical and business details, and programming options for the Elko community.
“We will do what we tell you we will do,” said Michael L. Dowdle, senior vice president of business affairs and general counsel for Bonneville International Corp., which owns KSL. “We do not shirk away from any responsibilities that we have, including the one to serve this community once we have received the indication that we are bound to do so. Figuring out how that is best done, well, the devil is always in the details.”
KSL became Elko’s exclusive NBC provider after NBC allowed its about 20-year affiliation with KENV to expire, which also led to the discontinuation of local news produced by a team at the studio based at Great Basin College. The Elko TV district had intended to rebroadcast NBC programming from the Reno affiliate, but because Elko falls within Salt Lake City’s designated market area, NBC requires KSL to serve the area.
“We acknowledge that we had a hand in how we ended up where we are, but we were just trying to protect the DMA that we are assigned,” Dowdle said.
“As any good business decision would be made,” responded Elko TV District treasurer Jon Wahrenbrock
But board chairman Paul Gardner with Elko Broadcasting Co. was not as understanding.
“It still makes me mad,” said Gardner, who is concerned about lack of Nevada and local news and access to emergency notifications as the station comes from out of state.
Those are concerns shared by former KENV news director Lori Gilbert. She described the “thousands of hours produced locally” that the community no longer has.
Tanya Vea, Bonneville’s vice president and market manager for the Salt Lake City market and general manager of KSL, addressed board members’ and the public’s remarks about programming.
“We are a believer in local news, and we are a believer in serving your local communities,” she said, explaining that as a journalist she feels “very strongly” about the importance of local programming but is not sure at this point how it could be provided to Elko logistically. “We won’t be able to do as well as you can do that here. We see that and yet we will try.”
The Elko TV District, a taxpayer funded organization led by a five-member board, did not have the infrastructure to share KSL nor the budget to accommodate the change. Eager to broadcast in the Elko area, KSL facilitated procuring equipment and paid for half of the upgrade.
“It should move along very smoothly,” said Dale Lotspeich with Eagle Communications. He told how KSL arranged for an encoder to be shipped from Sweden, and it arrived in two days.
The Utah company also offered to pay for the other half until the Elko TV District enters its next budget year.
“We want to do it. We want to participate. We believe this is an important community. We’ve missed being here,” Dowdle said. “I think that’s a pretty generous offer, to be honest … . We are stepping as a full partner into a space where I don’t know it would be our legal obligation.”
Gardner, however, did not direct the board to take action regarding finances.
“I know that you would like this board to make a commitment tonight to spend 50 percent of that money or at least commit to get 50 percent back to you,” he said. “I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. It’s certainly not going to happen tonight. We can continue to talk about it, but that will not happen tonight and maybe not as long as I sit on this chair.”